15 Largest Global IPOs of All Time

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In this article we are going to list the 15 largest global IPOs of all time. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 largest global IPOs of all time.

Most people hate having to work 9-5 in an office, where they have to get up really early, get dressed, fight rush hour traffic, get late, work for a boss you inevitably do not like and then beating rush hour traffic again only to get barely a few hours to yourself and still be living pay check to pay check. This is why many people want to become entrepreneurs and establish their own company. Sure, it may be really hard work but at least you’re only answerable to yourself and whatever money you earn, you get to keep instead of a salary which often does not justify the work you’re doing.

Of course, starting a company has a lot of other complications as well, in addition to working hard. First things first, you need capital to be able to start a business. You will always need some money initially, with the amount that you require depending on the company and the industry you’re in. Most people either get investors initially to pony up the capital, pool in their own resources and / or get loans from banks. Now, to get loans from banks, you need to have a really good credit rating as well as sufficient assets which are often held for lien against the loan provided. Hence, if you are just an ordinary Joe, with few assets and without an excellent credit rating, few  banks will take a risk and provide you with the loan.

Remember, when a business starts, you aren’t expecting to earn profits immediately. There’s a lot of initial investment and expenses required, while revenues are inconsistent as you are still trying to build up your customer base and economies of scale aren’t present either. And while the money may be sufficient for an initial start up or a new or a small company, your requirement for capital consistently increases as your company grows. And this is where IPOs come in.

An IPO is what we call an initial public offering. As the name suggests, it refers to shares of the company being offered to the general public, who purchase them for a specific price. Once the IPO is done, the shares continue to be publicly traded, and the price of the shares adjusts accordingly. Now as I mentioned earlier, companies take part in IPOs to get more money from shareholders so that they use this money to grow even more. This is why most of the biggest companies in the US and the world, and even many mid sized companies, are publicly traded. For example, Cargill is the biggest private company in the United States by revenue, and yet isn’t even one of the 20 biggest companies in the country, which are all publicly traded. But why do shareholders invest in companies? What sort of returns do they get? Well, shareholders get returns in two forms; either through a dividend even though there are many companies, even major companies which don’t pay a dividend. The other method is simply the value of the share price increasing as the company continues to perform well and being able to sell the shares for a profit.

Now maybe you’re wondering why doesn’t every single company have an IPO then? Surely, more money is equal to more success and there are no downsides at all, right? Well, not exactly. The first thing that happens when you have an IPO is that you are no longer the sole owner of your company. Every person who buys a share owns a percentage of the company, while the percentage is based on the total number of shares purchased by the person divided by the total number of outstanding shares of a company. Contrary to popular belief, you can still own a public company if you own or control more than 50% of the shares, or at least the voting shares. Another important thing to note in this aspect is that a public’s companies responsibilities are vastly greater than that of a private company. Among other things, you are required to disclose and material information as soon as it occurs and there are a whole host of investor related duties the company has to execute such as disclosing all financial data as well. This is why public companies publish annual accounts while private companies do not have to disclose such data at all.

Now, there is always a lot of speculation as well as interest in companies having an IPO as they are often some of the hottest companies around. The biggest IPO in history took place in December 2019, and had a lot of media and fanfare accompanying it as well. Even very recently, the biggest IPO in history was supposed to take place in China, with Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) (which also had a record IPO in 2014), having been expected to go public. The company was expected to be worth around $313 billion, which would make it one of the biggest companies in the world. However, extremely controversially, China refused to allow the listing to go forward, and rumors are that the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping himself refused the listing. The fact that this literally happened just a day before the listing took place also lends credence to the rumors which state that it was the government which refused the listing.

The 15 largest global IPOs of all time are worth more than $240 billion. Remember, this is not the total market cap of all these companies, but just the value of the shares which were issued din the IPO. Most of the major IPOs have taken place in the last 2 decades with only 4 of the top 15 taking place before 2000. We will also tell you about their inflation adjusted numbers just for information purposes. The earliest IPO in our list is from 1996 only. So now, let’s take a look at the companies responsible for the biggest IPOs in history, starting with number 15:

15. Rosneft Oil Company

Total value of the IPO (in billions of dollars): 10.4

Total value of the IPO adjusted for inflation (in billions of dollars): 13.3

Rosneft is the third biggest Russian company, and had its IPO in July 2006.

Pixabay/Public Domain

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